March 11, 2010
First edition of his later 2 volume treatise
I didn't even know that Oman did an extensive 1898 edition of his more fulsome treatise on the art of war in the middle ages, until I saw this file on the Internet Archive.
In this preface he outlines his project: to start in classical times and move up through Roman times in a first volume; then proceed with three following volumes through the middle ages, the renaissance and terminate in the 19th century.
Evidently his project expanded "during the middles ages" to include TWO volumes in the second edition.
This version (The Internet Archive scan) is the first edition medieval volume and terminates with the battle of Aljubarotta (CE 1385), a most arbitrary cut-off date!
In the second edition (1924) Oman had consolidated his expanded thesis and the second volume terminates at the beginning of the 16th century CE.
The differences between this first edition and the 2 volume second edition are numerous and cannot be more than noted here. Even the footnotes are different between editions, as are the organization of "Books" and chapters.
Oman's depth of treatment has seldom been approached, let alone equalled, in the study of medieval warfare since his second edition came out. It remains a benchmark treatise; and as such it is a target for criticism. But much that he addressed remains unresolved even today. New questions about the effectiveness of armor and (especially missile) weapons; the importance and introduction of stirrups and the "war saddle"; the inevitability of outcomes due to logistical and political factors, etc; all of these and more, have resulted in arguments that have yet to be concluded.
Oman's work is enormous in scope. Scholars today are specialists and seldom (if ever) attempt to examine medieval warfare evolution in total as Oman did. Therefore, any student of this subject MUST treat Oman as "required reading".